The beloved Japanese player is transitioning from pro to coach before the end of the year.

Ichiro Suzuki is one of the most famous names in modern baseball history. With a long successful career and numerous awards, he has been called one of the best players in the world by for his accomplishments both in Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball, all the while still somehow remaining humble.

Though he officially retired as a player last year at the age of 44, Ichiro isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in his baseball life. In fact, it’s been revealed that his next project is coaching high school baseball in Japan.

This new move would be the first time Ichiro has coached high school students, though after his retirement last March he worked as an instructor and special assistant for the Seattle Mariners, the first MLB team he played for. Last December, he began to take classes and underwent an examination to renew his qualifications to coach high school baseball, and as of February this year was ready to take on a position at a school.

Ichiro fans and baseball lovers are excited by the news–and maybe a little jealous, too:

“I wonder which school…The students must be so excited, so I hope he does well. What a wonderful accomplishment.”
“Ichiro is going to coach high school baseball…I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I wonder where?”
“Even though I already love high school baseball I can’t express how excited I am to hear that Ichiro is going to be involved”
“So some kids are going to be coached by Ichiro…Obviously I’m totally jealous.”
“Being coached by Ichiro has gotta be major motivation.”
“Those kids must be so happy.”

If you’re wondering why a pro-leaguer would bother with coaching high school baseball and not another pro team, it’s because high school baseball in Japan is almost as serious as pro baseball. High school teams go head-to-head with their neighbors to win local and regional championships, then the best of the best from each prefecture move on to a final, thrilling, two-week tournament known as Koshien to see which school has the best baseball team in the country. It’s one of the biggest TV events of the year, and young players all aspire to play in the tournament, as that’s the best way to launch a career in the sport.

Ichiro is set to coach a team that has won the tournament before–possibly leading them to an even greater advantage. The name of the school hasn’t been disclosed yet, but we do know that it’s a school in Kansai (the central region of Japan, which includes Osaka) that’s won the Koshien tournament at least once in the past. Everyone’s trying to guess, but I’m sure we’ll all know soon enough…and then everyone else can worry about trying to beat (or at least to not be intimidated by) that team!

…New baseball manga plot, anyone?

Source: NHK News via My Game News Flash, Twitter
Top image: Wikipedia/Kanesue
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